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Airlink logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
HubsOR Tambo International Airport
Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport
Focus citiesKing Shaka International Airport
Cape Town International Airport
AllianceStar Alliance (affiliate)
SubsidiariesEswatini Airlink
Airlink Cargo
Fleet size53
HeadquartersGreenstone Hill Office Park, Modderfontein, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

SA Airlink (Pty) Ltd., known and trading simply as Airlink, is a regional airline based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is privately owned, and its main activity is to act as a feeder airline between small towns and larger hub airports. It has code-sharing and schedule co-ordination agreements with South African Airways and South African Express.


A now retired former Airlink Avro RJ85

Airlink was formed in 1992,[2] following the purchase of the liquidated Link Airways business, which had incorporated a range of other airlines: Midlands Aviation (founded in 1967), Lowveld Aviation Services, Magnum Airways, Border Air and Citi Air. It has a 40% share in Swaziland Airlink. In 1997 Airlink joined South African Airways and South African Express Airways in a strategic alliance which is governed by a franchise agreement.

On 23 December 2009 the SA Civil Aviation Authority grounded their fleet of 13 BAe Jetstream 41 planes.[3][4] Following audits of the airline's procedures and inspection of the grounded aircraft they were returned to service. A problem with a seal in the aircraft's Honeywell engines was found to be the cause of the safety issues.[5]

On 3 May 2017, Airlink became the first airline in history to make a commercial charter flight to Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean, landing an Avro RJ85 at the newly constructed Saint Helena Airport to pick up passengers stranded there when the island's only link with the outside world, the British Royal Mail Ship RMS St Helena, suffered propeller damage.[6]

No other commercial airliner landed at St Helena until 14 October 2017, when Airlink began history's first scheduled commercial airline service to Saint Helena Airport, with an Embraer E190-100IGW with 78 passengers aboard arriving after a flight of about six hours from Johannesburg with a stop at Windhoek, Namibia. The flight began once-a-week scheduled service between Johannesburg and Saint Helena.[6]

Corporate affairs[edit]


Airlink is privately owned, but has published the names of its shareholders:[7]

  • Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust (32.51%)
  • Coronation Capital
  • SA Airlink Investments (Rodger Foster)
  • Barrie Webb
  • South African Airways (2.96%)

Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust, via its subsidiary Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust Investment Holdings, acquired a 32.51% stake in the company in June 2012.[2] The original founders of Airlink, Rodger Foster and Barrie Webb,[2] remain shareholders.

Head office[edit]

Airlink's head office is in the 3rd office block of the Greenstone Office Park in the Greenstone Hill suburb of Ekurhuleni in Gauteng, South Africa.[8]


As of October 2019, Airlink served the following destinations:[9]

Hub Hub
¤ Focus Cities
^ Future destinations
[T] Terminated destinations
Country City Airport Notes Refs
Botswana Kasane Kasane Airport
Botswana Gaborone Sir Seretse Khama International Airport
Botswana Maun Maun Airport
Eswatini Manzini King Mswati III International Airport Served by Eswatini Airlink
Lesotho Maseru Moshoeshoe I International Airport
Madagascar Antananarivo Ivato International Airport
Madagascar Nosy Be Fascene Airport [10]
Mozambique Beira Beira Airport
Mozambique Maputo Maputo International Airport Terminated
Mozambique Pemba Pemba Airport
Mozambique Nampula Nampula Airport
Mozambique Tete Chingozi Airport
Mozambique Vilanculos Vilankulo Airport[11]
Namibia Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport
Namibia Walvis Bay Walvis Bay Airport [12]
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Georgetown, Ascension Island Wideawake Airfield Monthly scheduled charter. [13]
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Longwood, Saint Helena Saint Helena Airport Scheduled flight once a week. [14]
South Africa Bloemfontein Bloemfontein Airport
South Africa Cape Town Cape Town International Airport ¤
South Africa Durban King Shaka International Airport ¤
South Africa East London East London Airport
South Africa George George Airport
South Africa Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport Hub
South Africa Kimberley Kimberley Airport
South Africa Mthatha Mthatha Airport
South Africa Nelspruit Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport
South Africa Pietermaritzburg Pietermaritzburg Airport
South Africa Phalaborwa Hendrik Van Eck Airport
South Africa Polokwane Polokwane International Airport
South Africa Port Elizabeth Port Elizabeth Airport
South Africa Pretoria Wonderboom Airport Terminated[15]
South Africa Skukuza Skukuza Airport[16]
South Africa Sishen Sishen Airport [17]
South Africa Upington Upington Airport
Uganda Entebbe Entebbe International Airport Airlink assisting SAA with flight to Entebbe. Still flying as SA160/1
Zambia Livingstone Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport
Zambia Lusaka Kenneth Kaunda International Airport
Zambia Ndola Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport
Zimbabwe Bulawayo Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport
Zimbabwe Harare Harare International Airport
Zimbabwe Victoria Falls Victoria Falls Airport


Current fleet[edit]

The Airlink fleet consists of the following aircraft:[18][19]

Airlink Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
J Y Total
BAe 146 1 83 83
BAe Jetstream 41 5 29 29
Embraer ERJ-135 16 37 37
Embraer ERJ-140 11 44 44
Embraer 170[20] 3 6 68 74
Embraer 190IGW[21][20] 11 6 6 92 98
Total 53 6

Fleet History[edit]

Airlink Fleet History
Aircraft Type Total Aircraft
Avro RJ85 12
Dornier Do 228 2

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On 24 September 2009, Airlink Flight 8911, a BAe Jetstream 41, crashed in the suburb of Merebank shortly after takeoff from Durban International Airport, injuring its crew of three and one person on the ground.[22][23] The captain, Allister Freeman, died as a result of complications from his injuries on 7 October 2009.[4]
  • On 7 December 2009, an Airlink Embraer ERJ 135 (registration:ZS-SJW) on scheduled flight SA 8625, overshot the runway when trying to land in wet weather at George Airport; no fatalities were reported. The flight from Cape Town to George was cleared for an instrument landing (ILS) approach and prevailing weather conditions at the time were overcast, with light rain. The landing appeared normal, however the aircraft did not vacate the runway but instead veered to the right and collided with approach lights before it burst through the airport's perimeter fence, coming to rest in a nose-down attitude on a public road. The aircraft was damaged beyond economical repair.[24][25][26] Probable cause: The crew were unable to decelerate the aircraft to a safe stop due to ineffective braking of the aircraft on a wet runway surface, resulting in an overrun. Two months before the accident the runway was resurfaced with a fog spray sealant. The George area was experiencing a drought at the time and on the day of the accident, it was the first rain they had received since the resurfacing. The fog sprayed surface caused a degradation of the surface friction and promoted the formation of pooling on the surface. After touch down the aircraft started aquaplaning. The crew veered to the right to prevent a collision with the localiser antenna. The runway was found non-compliant with ICAO annexe 14 and was subsequently resurfaced.[27] Airlink's insurers took legal action against the state-owned Airports Company of South Africa.[28]
  • On 8 November 2017 an Avro 146-RJ85A (Aircraft registration: ZS-ASW), doing business as Airlink flight 8103, suffered an uncontained engine failure of its No. 2 Honeywell LF 507 engine due to the LP retaining nut becoming dislodged causing the 4th stage LP turbine disk to disengage from the LP turbine shaft. The resulting failure caused the turbine's blades to all detach from the disk and damage the No. 1 engine's nacelle and causing the engine to undergo an un-commanded engine shutdown. The aircraft landed safely and no one was injured.[29]


  1. ^ "CONTRACTIONS FAAO JO 7340.2". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Timeline". Airlink. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  3. ^ "S. Africa Grounds 14 Airlink Planes on Safety Fears (Update1)". Bloomberg. 24 December 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Airlink to commence Cape Town – Windhoek flights 6 October 2014". Archived from the original on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  5. ^ " – Airlink Jetstream fleet all fit to fly". Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  6. ^ a b Anonymous, "First commercial flight lands on remote St Helena,", October 14, 2017.
  7. ^ "Shareholders". Airlink. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Company Announcement: Barrow's Latest Greenstone Hill Office Building Leased" (Press release). 13 August 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Flyairlink | Freedom of the African Sky". Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  10. ^ "SA Airlink Adds Nosy-Be Service from late-March 2016". Routesonline. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  11. ^ Styan, James-Brent (28 January 2013). "SA Airlink extends bush beach offering". Fin24. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Airlink News | Flyairlink".
  13. ^ "Airlink-Ascension Island Government". Ascension Island Government. 5 October 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  14. ^ Jim Liu (24 September 2017). "SA Airlink opens St. Helena reservation for Oct 2017 launch". Routesonline. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Skukuza Flight Schedule is Now Available for Bookings". Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  17. ^ "SA Airlink Adds Johannesburg – Sishen Service from late-Sep 2014". Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Global Airline Guide 2017 (Part Two)". Airliner World (November 2017): 32.
  19. ^ "Airlink Fleet Details and History".
  20. ^ a b "South Africa's Airlink confirms plans for E170s, 190s". Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  21. ^ "South Africa's Airlink adds maiden EMB-190". Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  22. ^ "Crash plane declared emergency". Independent Online. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2009.
  23. ^ "Plane crash-lands in George". News24. Archived from the original on 13 December 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  24. ^ Hradecky, Simon (7 December 2009). "Accident: SA Airlink E135 at George on Dec 7th 2009, overran runway". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  25. ^ "Airlink plane overshoots George runway". Mail & Guardian. 7 December 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  26. ^ "Crash of an Embraer 135 in George | B3A Aircraft Accidents Archives". 7 December 2009. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  27. ^ "Business Day Airlink in clear, ACSA blamed for George near-disaster". Business Day Live. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  28. ^ "RJ85 ZS-ASW" (PDF). South African Civil Aviation Authority. Retrieved 5 August 2019.

External links[edit]

Media related to South African Airlink at Wikimedia Commons